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New! Doctors Report ‘Alarming’ Rise in MRSA in Children

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

A new study out shows that researchers have found an “alarming” increase in children’s ear, nose and throat infections nationwide caused by dangerous drug-resistant staph germs.

The study, published in the January 2009 Archives of Otolaryngology, found more than 21-thousand pediatric head and neck infections caused by staph germs from 2001 through 2006. The percentage caused by the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria more than doubled during that time from almost 12 percent to 28 percent. The study is based on nationally representative information from an electronic database that collects lab results from more than 300 hospitals nationwide.

“In most parts of the United States, there’s been an alarming rise,” said study author Dr. Steven Sobol, a children’s head and neck specialist at Emory University.

MRSA can cause dangerous, life-threatening invasive infections and doctors believe inappropriate use of antibiotics has contributed to its rise. MRSA infections were once limited mostly to hospitals, nursing homes and other health-care settings, but recent studies have shown they are increasingly picked up in the community, in otherwise healthy people.

Dr. Sobol said MRSA head and neck infections most likely develop in MRSA carriers who become susceptible because of ear, nose and throat infections caused by some other bug.

MRSA does not respond to penicillin-based antibiotics and doctors are concerned that it is becoming resistant to others. The study authors said a worrisome 46 percent of MRSA infections studied were resistant to the antibiotic clindamycin, one of the non-penicillin drugs doctors often rely on to treat community-acquired MRSA.

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